Two key Vatican figures, Archbishop Gerhard Müller and Cardinal Reinhard Marx, are openly at odds on one of the most neuralgic issues facing the Church.
Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, staunchly argues that Catholics who divorce and remarry should be forever barred from Communion. Marx, appointed by Pope Francis to his Council of Cardinals, disagrees, and says that Müller cannot block continuing debate on the subject. Here we profile the protagonists whose public clash offers a rare glimpse of tensions at the top of the Church.
The present prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, not only appears to live in two completely different worlds, but has actually done so for many years. The man who lays down the law with such rigour in Rome bears little similarity to the figure known as 'Padre' or Monsignor Müller of the Lima slums.
Müller was born into a working-class family in Mainz on 31 December 1947. His father worked for Opel, the German auto-maker, where he was a shop steward.
The family were practising Catholics. Müller has always emphasised that he and his siblings were brought up 'quite normally, without exaggeration in one direction or the other and with the right mixture of freedom and obligation'.
The priests he met while working with young people in his own parish after leaving school so inspired him that he decided to study theology, first at Mainz University and later at Freiburg and Munich. He wrote a thesis in 1977, under the guidance of the then Bishop (now Cardinal) Karl Lehmann, on the Lutheran theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was hanged by the Nazis in April 1945.
Müller’s recent accusation, that Catholics who were in favour of the ordination of married priests wanted to 'protestantise the Catholic priesthood', is a little difficult to understand given his fascination with Bonhoeffer and ecumenism.
FULL STORY Müller vs Marx: clash of the titans